Being Thankful, Taking a Stand

John Trudell Quote of Life

No one is perfect, but everyone can be human. Being human means so much to me. It means having empathy, being sensitive, respectful and conscious of what it means to be a human being. Perfection, defined as the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws and defects, is not something I ascribe to. We will never be that, making perfection subjective at best. Am I a perfect mother? My children tell me I am when they get what they want from me, but the jury is out when I cannot or won't do something they think I should. We live with it, however,  because we love each other, we care. We don't always get it right--perfection--but we keep trying. The problem is that not everyone tries. Why? Because this systemic system of inequality and injustice empowers those of us who forget what it means to be human, or worse to see the humanity in others.

Every holiday, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, I'm thankful to take the time to be with family and friends. I'm thankful that I have a family that loves me and who I love in all of our imperfections. Imperfect though we may be, I am never alone. But, I look around me and I see homeless people, people suffering from mental illnesses and addictions, some who walk across my front yard. Sometimes my daughter will cook something and feed them late at night and someone said to me, "she's likes picking up stray animals, doesn't she?" I responded, "No, she is reminding herself about their humanity. They are not stray animals! They are the forgotten." I'm glad to know the person was immediately contrite, but how easy is it for us to forget the humanity of others by way of their circumstances?

Take a Knee by Itina
For 4-1/2 years, I had the honor of being part of Project Row Houses with a place we dubbed "Our House." It has been almost two years since "Our House" ended its location, but today more than 30 of those artists are still part of my life. I watched them struggle with their artistry and their need to make their art mean something. I was instrumental in giving them that space both physically and emotionally, to stretch the limits of their talents further than before, and I was rewarded with being witness to some of their greatest achievements.

Today, one of my artists, Itina Guidry, sent me another of her dynamic creations, "Taking a Knee." It is her tribute to NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who said, "I won't stand to show pride in a flag or country that oppresses black people." In other words, until this country recognizes our humanity, we cannot place hands over heart to honor the flag. And to prove the case that this country doesn't recognize our humanity, we have placed this piece of cloth as having more importance than a human life. Maybe that is why it is so easy to send young men and women into war because we are standing for a flag rather than people. And being in touch with that on this holiday, also requires that I recognize the humanity of my Native brothers and sisters. In a perfect world, perhaps there would be no need to have this conversation because we would be without flaws or defect.

And so, on yet another holiday that does bring families together, let us be reminded that not everyone has a space to lay their head, that there are people who are hungry in this place called land of the free and home of the brave, and that until that changes, none of us are free. Being held captive in a society that picks and chooses who is entitled to these freedoms leaves all us lacking in humanity and our understanding of it. I can't allow that to continue in my life. My grandson's and all the generations to come have their future at stake because of our failure to recognize the humanity of all. Our humanity should be rooted in love, justice and peace, something that passes all understanding. It ain't perfect, but it is real. ~ Peace.


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